Monday, February 23, 2009
Wildlife In My Neighbour's Yard
Early in the mornings when the sun starts on its western journey,
there's no sign of life in my neighbour's yard. Even the dahlias
look drowsy at this time of the day...
But as it gets brighter and warmer the first visitors drop by. The
sparrows, the mynahs, magpies and the common tailor birds. The
Asian pied starling is another visitor. It usually does not come
alone. There's always a companion in tow and they're very noisy
when they land.
I'm so glad that my neighbour is passionate about gardening
and has a vast variety of plants. Her best blooms are out in
the front of her house but I'm happy with what I get to see
from my kitchen window. This patch is her southern area. And
the best part is that I can take photographs of her yard when-
ever I want!
Of late I've noticed a white-breasted water hen foraging in
this patch at different hours of the day. With the low-lying
areas nearby, this is the most prominent aquatic bird seen
in the neighbourhood. Oh yes, the egrets still come to feed
on the marsh but that's only in the mornings. I never see
them at other times of the day.
Water hens belong to the rail family and live near marshes
and rice fields in both dry and wet habitats. They have a
white face and the colour runs through the entire length
of the body on the underside. The upper part is dark grey
and the rump is a rusty red. The bill is greenish yellow
with a red frontal shield.
She runs as soon as she sees me! It really is difficult to
take good pictures of this shy bird. She flies off to the
wall, and then beyond it. For a bird that looks the way it
does, the cries are raucous. Especially in the mornings.
That's when they keep calling out loudly.
I catch her on a quiet afternoon when she's busy pecking
about the yard. The water hen's diet consists of worms,
insects, small fish, snails, grain, tender shoots and roots.
For the snails and small fish, she'll have to wait a little
longer. The rains aren't here yet!
It was heartening to find out ( on the Net) that the white-
breasted water hen is not an endangered species. There are
142 different types of water hens in the world.
Initially I was happy to have a view of a garden. But to
see wildlife from such close quarters, and in the midst of
such surroundings, is a blessing indeed!